Referee Lee Mason awarded Huddersfield a second-half penalty then changed his mind after talking to an assistant
The Premier League's bottom side Huddersfield Town were controversially denied a late penalty as they ground their way to an attritional goalless draw away against relegation rivals Cardiff City.
A meeting between two of the division's three lowest-scoring teams was never likely to set pulses racing, and it lived up to its modest billing during a turgid first half.
The best either side could muster was the occasional set-piece hoisted hopefully into the penalty area, and their combined total of one shot on target between them in the entire match told its own story.
With 14 minutes left, Huddersfield thought they had a golden opportunity to snatch what would only have been their third win of the season when referee Lee Mason awarded them a penalty after Cardiff's Joe Bennett brought down Florent Hadergjonaj.
But assistant referee Stuart Burt intervened to tell Mason that it was in fact Hadergjonaj who had fouled Bennett, and Mason reversed his decision, prompting a furious reaction from the Huddersfield dugout.
The result means the Terriers stay at the foot of the Premier League, eight points adrift of safety, while Cardiff remain 17th in the table, one point in front of 18th-placed Newcastle, who visit Chelsea later on Saturday.
- Relive Cardiff City v Huddersfield Town as it happened
- Analysis and reaction from Saturday's Premier League games
Nine successive defeats in all competitions had cut Huddersfield adrift at the bottom of the Premier League, eight points behind Cardiff in the first position of safety.
Chief among the reasons for their slump was an alarming lack of goals. Their total of 13 was the lowest in the division, with only five of those coming from open play.
Despite their struggles, however, there was no suggestion that manager David Wagner's position was under threat.
Although his job was safe, Wagner recognised the importance of this match and described it beforehand as "a game we have to win and it's a game which can affect our season massively".
Like Cardiff, there was no shortage of endeavour from the Terriers but their dismal recent form had left them almost entirely devoid of confidence in attack.
They did at least improve as the match wore on, enjoying long spells of possession and putting their opponents under pressure during the second half.
Then, with 76 minutes gone, Huddersfield were given a precious opportunity to score a rare goal and secure an even rarer win when they awarded a penalty.
But Mason's decision to reverse that call was a brutal body blow for the visitors.
Although this draw stopped the rot of eight successive league losses, this point will do little to allay the fears that Huddersfield are destined for the drop.
Cardiff frustration - and relief
Much like Huddersfield last season, at the start of this campaign Cardiff had been tipped by many for an instant and ignominious return to the Championship following their improbable promotion.
But also like the Terriers' first term back in the top flight, Neil Warnock's side had confounded their doubters to give themselves a fighting chance of surviving.
Their home form had been crucial to those hopes, with four of their five victories coming at Cardiff City Stadium, often full and intimidatingly loud.
There was another lively atmosphere on this occasion, albeit fuelled by the two sets of players' commitment and passion rather than any quality.
Scoring opportunities were at a premium for both sides, though Cardiff felt they should have had two penalties in the first half - one for handball from Erik Durm and another when Hadergjonaj brought down Junior Hoilett as the Bluebirds winger bore down on goal.
However, the disappointment of missing out on those spot-kicks paled into insignificance compared to the reprieve Cardiff got when Mason reversed his decision to award Huddersfield a late penalty.
A goalless draw against the league's bottom side may feel like a wasted opportunity for Warnock and his players but, given their late let-off, their sense of frustration may be tempered by one of relief.
Man of the match - Sol Bamba (Cardiff)
In a game in which neither attack fired, Bamba was imperious at the heart of Cardiff's defence, dominant in the air and assertive on the ball.
'We didn't deserve to win' - what they said
Cardiff captain Sean Morrison: "We wanted to take three points but with our performance we didn't deserve to win the game and we're disappointed. Huddersfield played with a lot less pressure, it was an all-or-nothing performance from them.
"We've got better players than we have shown today and if we want to stay in the Premier League our performances need to be better and we need to create chances." On the penalty Huddersfield were awarded before referee Lee Mason changed his mind: "From my point of view it was not a penalty. It was two or three yards before he went down. The referee gave it, spoke to a linesman and overturned."
More to follow.
3BennettBooked at 82mins
19Mendez-LaingSubstituted forHealeyat 73'minutes
21CamarasaSubstituted forRallsat 64'minutes
7ArterBooked at 33mins
33HoilettBooked at 71mins
26SchindlerBooked at 10mins
21PritchardSubstituted forMbenzaat 73'minutes
24MounieSubstituted forDepoitreat 87'minutes
Home TeamCardiffAway TeamHuddersfield
Shots on Target
Match ends, Cardiff City 0, Huddersfield Town 0.Full TimePosted at 90'+4'
Second Half ends, Cardiff City 0, Huddersfield Town 0.
Posted at 90'+4'
Florent Hadergjonaj (Huddersfield Town) wins a free kick in the defensive half.Posted at 90'+4'
Foul by Callum Paterson (Cardiff City).Posted at 90'+4'
Dangerous play by Elias Kachunga (Huddersfield Town).Posted at 90'+4'
Neil Etheridge (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.Posted at 90'+3'
Attempt saved. Laurent Depoitre (Huddersfield Town) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Florent Hadergjonaj with a cross.Posted at 90'+2'
Foul by Jonathan Hogg (Huddersfield Town).Posted at 90'+2'
David Junior Hoilett (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.Posted at 90'+1'
Jonathan Hogg (Huddersfield Town) wins a free kick in the defensive half.Posted at 90'+1'
Foul by Bruno Ecuele Manga (Cardiff City).Posted at 90'+1'
Attempt blocked. Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.Posted at 89'
Foul by Erik Durm (Huddersfield Town).Posted at 89'
David Junior Hoilett (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.Posted at 88'
Philip Billing (Huddersfield Town) wins a free kick in the attacking half.Posted at 88'
Foul by Rhys Healey (Cardiff City).SubstitutionPosted at 87'
Substitution, Huddersfield Town. Laurent Depoitre replaces Steve Mounie.Posted at 87'
Offside, Cardiff City. Joe Bennett tries a through ball, but Sean Morrison is caught offside.Posted at 86'
Foul by Zanka (Huddersfield Town).Posted at 86'
Rhys Healey (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.Posted at 86'
Attempt missed. Elias Kachunga (Huddersfield Town) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Zanka.Posted at 82'
Offside, Huddersfield Town. Isaac Mbenza tries a through ball, but Florent Hadergjonaj is caught offside.BookingPosted at 82'
Joe Bennett (Cardiff City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.Posted at 82'
Elias Kachunga (Huddersfield Town) wins a free kick on the right wing.Posted at 82'
Foul by Joe Bennett (Cardiff City).Posted at 79'
Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Zanka.Posted at 78'
Foul by Florent Hadergjonaj (Huddersfield Town).Posted at 78'
Joe Bennett (Cardiff City) wins a free kick on the left wing.Posted at 74'
Jonathan Hogg (Huddersfield Town) wins a free kick in the defensive half.Posted at 74'
Foul by Joe Ralls (Cardiff City).SubstitutionPosted at 73'
Substitution, Cardiff City. Rhys Healey replaces Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.SubstitutionPosted at 73'
Substitution, Huddersfield Town. Isaac Mbenza replaces Alex Pritchard.Posted at 72'
Attempt missed. Zanka (Huddersfield Town) right footed shot from more than 35 yards is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Jonathan Hogg.BookingPosted at 71'
David Junior Hoilett (Cardiff City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.Posted at 71'
Elias Kachunga (Huddersfield Town) wins a free kick in the defensive half.Posted at 71'
Foul by David Junior Hoilett (Cardiff City).Posted at 70'
Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Christopher Schindler.Posted at 70'
Attempt blocked. Callum Paterson (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.Posted at 68'
Attempt missed. Steve Mounie (Huddersfield Town) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Florent Hadergjonaj with a cross following a corner.Posted at 67'
Corner, Huddersfield Town. Conceded by Bruno Ecuele Manga.
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